GRANDPARENTS are sitting around a table in the common area of AudioCinema, the practice-space complex located in Portland's inner Southeast. It's cold, and a couple members of the young band—despite their name, they're all still merely grandchildren—are blowing into their hands; a few are huddled on a couch.
Good thing there are six of them. While having more bodies tends to make their practice space a little cozier, writing together proves a bit unruly. "It's collaborative, but it can be really difficult to write," says guitarist Will Fenton, explaining that the members will usually break off into pairs.
"It's much easier than six people playing and screaming over each other," adds bassist Allison Faris.
Since the psych-pop band's inception in 2009, Grandparents have stuck to a "do what feels right" mission statement in their songwriting approach. It makes tagging them with two-cent descriptors difficult, and makes their handful of releases decidedly distinct from one another. The spacey garage of 2011's Sugar Beach is rowdier than the good, clean fun of last year's Fumes EP, for example, and while you can hear heaps of influences—from folk to the Mamas and the Papas-style vocal pop—they're not especially heavy handed. Grandparents are a pop band, pure and simple.
The band, which initially formed while sharing a house with members of White Fang, recently stepped out of their controlled studio regiment to release a live album as part of the Live from the Banana Stand series. The 10 songs, recorded in Banana Stand Media's Southeast basement lair, capture the band in rollicking but tight form. These six self-proclaimed control freaks—who record everything themselves, and play multiple instruments—had to give up the reins on this one. "It was nerve-wracking," admits Fenton. "Not knowing what it was going to sound like after—they had to calm me down."
But Grandparents have been at it long enough to know their "do what feels right" manifesto works. Guitarist Dylan White says Grandparents are constantly morphing, and that it's anyone's guess what the next record will sound like.
"By leaving it open you can do what you want," he says, explaining that they'd like to have something new recorded by the end of the summer. "The older songs would sound very different if we did them now."